Public Enemy’s Chuck D has filed suit against Universal Music Group for underpaying royalties on digital downloads.

According to, the veteran rapper filed a class action suit against the label in San Francisco, California, alleging that “UMG routinely miscalculates the royalties owed to artists for digital downloads, such as MP3s and ringtones, by treating them as ‘sale’ of physical records rather than ‘licenses.’”

Chuck D’s lawyers at Hausfeld LLP say that hundreds of millions of dollars have been withheld, motioning to a 2010 decision for digital downloads to be treated as “licenses.”

“Chuck D has been ‘fighting the power’ for over two decades and will continue to do so through this suit in order to help all musicians, including many legacy artists who are living on fixed incomes,” said James Pizzirusso, a partner at Hausfeld.

“This complaint suffers from serious flaws and weaknesses, not the least of which is that the claims asserted are not appropriate for class treatment,” responded a UMG spokesperson.

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